I have something up my sleeve for a friends-and-family Christmas party I’m attending tonight and can’t wait to share it.
- An updated look at NFC futures odds paints an interesting (and somewhat optimistic) picture:
Updated odds to win the NFC (@BovadaOfficial):
— OddsShark (@OddsShark) December 8, 2018
- The Rams and Saints are the cream of the crop to be sure, but the Bears are just below the big boys in that second tier of real contenders. Chicago has beaten Seattle and Minnesota, played consistently better ball than Dallas, Philadelphia, and Washington over the entirety of the year, and isn’t skidding at the moment like Carolina. It’s not that difficult to make an argument for the Bears as the team at the top of that second tier. We have seen non-No. 1 seeds win it all, so you already know you’ve got a chance to win the big trophy if you make the postseason. And if you get at least one home game out of it, you’re in a decent spot. The Bears still have work to do, but things are looking good as of this moment – all because of the work they’ve done in the first 12 games of the year.
- Now if I was to take off my blue-and-orange-tinted glasses for a moment, I’d have to admit the chances of the Bears running through the NFC aren’t that great because the two teams at the top of the conference are a cut above everyone else. And just look at the Bears’ path. Chicago would have to win on Wild-Card Weekend, beat the Rams or Saints on the road, then probably beat whichever top seed they didn’t see on the second weekend just to get through the conference. It’s a tall mountain to climb, but watching the Bears go on that journey is better than the alternative.
- Fun with wagering math: At +975, a $100 bet on the Bears winning the NFC would pay out $1,075. That’s a nice chunk of change for some post-holiday splurging for yourself. I hear Atlanta is wonderful in February, if you catch my drift.
- A bet on the Bears is essentially rolling the dice on Khalil Mack taking over, dominating, and leading this defense to some special things down the stretch. And by the sound of things, Mack is ready to do just that:
- “It’s all about winning ball games and doing whatever it takes.” Well, that certainly sums it up. Go get ’em, #52.
- SI.com’s Andy Benoit believes the Bears will knock off the Rams if both teams play like they did in Week 13. That’s odd, but Benoit’s reasoning is worth noting. The Bears lost last week, but Benoit saw a defense that was dominant for stretches of a game they should have won (and probably would have won had their starting quarterback been healthy). On the other hand, the Rams won, but their deep plays were limited because of the Lions’ coverage scheme – which happens to be the Bears’ base defense. You don’t need me to tell you that the Bears are more talented than the Lions and are in a much better position to defend what the Rams will throw at them when their offense is on the field.
- Between Chase Daniel’s pick-six on the second play of scrimmage and his second interception where just a little bit more loft or arm strength gives Tarik Cohen an easy touchdown, the Bears left a minimum of 14 points on the board (I’m tempting fate by assuming PATs, but Cody Parkey has been solid since his four-upright game). I bet we’d be talking about Bears-Rams a lot differently had the Bears won by 12 points. Call it a hunch.
- Yep, this is going to be a treat:
The Rams offense against the Bears defense has the potential to be one of the most exciting matchups of the year. pic.twitter.com/PcGPPIjyxO
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) December 8, 2018
- You really couldn’t script a better late-season primetime matchup. This game features the last two NFL Defensive Player of the Year award winners (Aaron Donald, Khalil Mack), the first quarterback taken in their respective class in back-to-back years (Jared Goff, Mitch Trubisky), two young and innovative head coaches (Sean McVay, Matt Nagy), and two high-profile cities (Los Angeles, Chicago). Seriously, what else could you ask for?
- Thanks for clearing that up, Eddie:
Bears safety Eddie Jackson Says “I’m good, 100 percent.”
— Mark Grote (@markgrotesports) December 7, 2018
- Elsewhere in the secondary, NFL Network analyst/insider Mike Garafolo thinks one of Jackson’s secondary mates will play a huge role in stopping that potent Rams offense:
- “Hey, guys! What about me? The one Bryce who is actually playing in Chicago,” asks stand-out slot corner Bryce Callahan:
Taking a look at Bryce Callahan's 2018 season so far. pic.twitter.com/IqtcPMecbz
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) December 8, 2018
- Elsewhere on the defense, Roquan Smith’s stock is on the rise. NFL.com analyst Daniel Jeremiah ranks the top rookies and the Bears rookie linebacker finds himself on the cusp of the top-10. Smith ranks as the 11th best rookie in this class after 13 weeks. The arrow is pointing up (literally … Smith moved up eight spots from the last ranking) for Smith, who Jeremiah sees as playing at a high level because he is quickly dissecting plays and getting to the ball quickly. Smith figures to have his hands full on Sunday keeping Todd Gurley in check.
- Change is good:
2018 vs 2017, % plays that were passes on first down, first 28 minutes of games, Weeks 1-13. The @ChicagoBears, @Colts, @Buccaneers, @Browns & @steelers all with double-digit shifts toward passing. @Seahawks only team with big shift in other direction. pic.twitter.com/zHxg2rdwyy
— Mike Sando, ESPN.com (@SandoESPN) December 7, 2018
- It’s Saturday and the biggest college football game is Army-Navy. If you’re the gambling type, the under has come in each of the last 12 meetings between these teams. There’s an opportunity for some intrepid gambler one way or another.
- Over at Bleacher Report, Brent Sobleski answers one NFL Draft-related question for each of the league’s 32 teams. From a Bears perspective, Sobleski wonders if the Bears will add bodies to their secondary. Safety Adrian Amos and slot corner Bryce Callahan are free agents, but it’s unlikely the team will bring back both. That means the secondary could be a position of need when draft weekend rolls around. Sobleski highlights Florida’s Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Texas’ Kris Boyd, Washington’s Jordan Miller, and Houston’s Isaiah Johnson as potential fits.
- We’ll dive deeper into draft-related things when the time comes for it. But it’s always worth remembering the Bears don’t have a pick until Round 3 in 2019. Our dives are going to be a bit deeper than in prior years.
- One of my favorite developments of the 2018 season is that we haven’t had to point out the long snapper for poor snaps. Patrick Scales is doing his job and is deserving of some praise:
- I understand this reference:
The D-backs' lineup without Goldy looks a lot like the Raiders' defense without Khalil Mack.
— Derek VanRiper (@DerekVanRiper) December 6, 2018
- Read up on what the Bears are doing for others as the season of giving continues.
- The Bulls won their first home game under new Head Coach Jim Boylen. And while I’m fully on board with #tankSZN, I’m encouraged when wins are a direct result of the young talent that is expected to carry the team once they are competitive again. Wendell Carter Jr. had a signature stuff of Russell Westbrook, Zach LaVine was more aggressive attacking defenders, and Lauri Markkanen made the game-winning shot. That’s what it’s supposed to look like. With that in mind, might I ask a small favor and give my friends and I a follow at @TalkinToros, a Bulls podcast we recently cooked up. We’ll make it worth your while if you want to follow another rebuilding program.